Monthly Archives: May 2009

Long weekend (in a good way)

Camping Saturday:

Big Rock Candy Mtn_052409_4Big Rock Candy Mtn_052409_5

Big Rock Candy Mtn_052409_7

(the weather wasn’t as cold or wet as we feared).

Family reunion Sunday, but no pictorial proof.

Walk down by the river Monday (click for big)

Today, back to the usual childcare, working, and squeezing in some textile work — just knitting today.

Topaz dress_052609Zetor_052609_2Danish shawl_052609_1


I taught someone to tat

It just seems laughable, seeing as I’m really new and pretty much no good at tatting yet.  But I taught (sort of) my friend to tat a couple nights ago. I tatted her some very ridiculous “pride snowflakes,” which, yes, you guessed it, are tatted snowflakes made out of rainbow thread.  She picked up a shuttle somewhere during the evening and kind of got into it.

So here’s your shout-out, Marie.  I have spent years (years!) trying to subtly seduce you to the textile arts.  I guess I just hadn’t demonstrated the right one yet. It’s a fun, portable, unusual, inexpensive one.  What more could recommend it?  Maybe the fact that you, too,  can now tat pride Christmas ornaments?


I bought Broccoli raab seeds last year for a new attempt at container gardening (finally having accepted that it’s too shady out back for veggies, we put large pots in a sunny spot at the back of the complex parking lot.  They got stolen within a day.  **&%^)

So.  I hadn’t tasted broccoli raab.  I planted the seeds in my rented garden plot this spring, wondering what kind of germination I’d get (pretty good).  Today I did a bit of thinning — all the greens, the carrots, and the B.R.  Brought the thinnings home in a tupperware, pinched off the very short flower heads of the b.r and threw the rest of those ones away in the compost bucket.  Only to snatch them back out of the bucket 15 minutes later, wash them off, and eat them.  No, I never eaten out of the compost bucket before, but no, I’m also not above it.

See, apparently, you can eat the young leaves and stems of B.R.  And they’re GOOD, oh yes they are, all lightly fried in a little butter with slivers of onion.  And perched on a fried egg.  Oh my, yes.  So good they don’t last long enough for pictures, though they are kind of pretty.  So good that I felt guilty eating them, knowing I wasn’t sharing any with my family.

So now you know (if you didn’t already) and I do too.  B.R. has a place in future gardens.

Baby lettuce and arugula salad tonight, I suppose.

What’s wrong with US healthcare 1: Eligible Charges

Did you know that healthcare costs more for uninsured people?  I don’t mean it  costs more because they visit the ER more or put off preventative care.  I mean the same exact service costs more for a person paying out of pocket than for a person whose insurance is paying.

That’s because the insurance company is big and has the power to negotiate lower prices.  Most clinics accept the lower amount.  But not from you, oh no no no.

Look at your “Explanation of Benefits” or whatever the piece of paper your insurance company sends you for each claim is called.  For each line item you’ll see a higher amount and a lower amount.  Then your responsibility, meaning whatever you’re supposed to pay.

The higher amount?  That’s the asking price — the amount the doctor or clinic wants for the service.  The lower amount?  That’s all the insurance co is willing to pay.  The clinic acquiesces and says “I give.  I’ll take the amount you’r offering.”  Usually.  (They could refuse to negotiate prices — some clinics do.  If you go to a clinic where you have to bill your insurance yourself, be careful.)  That piece of paper is documentation of a haggling process.

If you don’t have insurance, no haggle.  You pay the asking price.  Unless you successfully negotiate it down.  Most people don’t negotiate, I suppose  because (1) they don’t know they can and (2) it’s a social problem — a good relationship with your doctor is valuable.

Here’s what happened to me a few years ago when I needed a root canal and had no dental insurance (and please note I do not think that dental care is nearly as out of control as medical care, but the example still holds in this case).  I ended up with a very high bill, much higher than had been estimated.  I didn’t know at the time how things worked.  I paid it.  With my credit card.  And for several years after that I couldn’t extricate myself from carrying a balance on the cc.  Including interest, I paid way more, even, for that root canal.

If I had had dental insurance, the total amount charged by the dentist for the procedure would have been less, leaving my responsibility even smaller.  Wuh?

What did I do wrong?  Well, I could have tried to bargain with the dentist.  Failing that, I could have worked out a payment plan.  If I were in this situation again, I would do those things and they would have saved me money.

But there is a basic ethical flaw in charging people without insurance MORE.  Most uninsured people have LESS money than insured people.

There you go.  Part one in my series of What is wrong with US healthcare.

Regular programming of cute children and endless, useless but pretty loops and rings of thread tomorrow.


In-laws visiting.

Need to learn the foldover join.

Back to the knitting now that I have a set of non-DREADFUL size 5 24″ circulars.  Why did I buy the Bryspun circs?  I know I hate them.

All other activities as usual.

Thanks for reading this very boring post.  Here are the kids, if that helps any.  It’s fuzzy, yes.  But I like it anyway.

H and C_050909_6

Down the Rabbit Hole

Well, I’m now the owner of another tatting needle and another shuttle.   I have discovered a definite preference for the Clover shuttles I have in my possession, over that metal Victorian-style shuttle from Lacis, and the metal Susan Bates hook shuttle.  I’d love to get an Aero shuttle and try it out.  I also need to learn to use the needles for anything other than rings-only work.  I am very excited about the needles.  They feel more natural to me.  I have a video from the library on needle tatting, and can hopefully watch it sometime this week.

Here’s some recent practice:

IMG_1148Pattern here, thread #30, some DMC cordonnet, I think, I picked up second-hand.  I love this little bookmark, despite its flaws (in execution, not the pattern).  Look!  My first split rings!

IMG_1151Pattern here.  From Aunt Lydia’s Crochet Cotton,#10.  The picture in the pattern is fuzzy, and I did the bottom of the cross differently from what it specified.

IMG_1152Brad’s favorite — pattern here.  From Royale Classic Crochet Cotton, #10, color Ocean.  I enjoyed this, but for some reason the petals on the flowers want to twist a lot.  I’m actually doing another one in rainbow thread, and finding it is happening again.  Maybe I need to loosen up the tension on them.

Uncharted territory in Tomatoland

Today I bought plants at the community garden plant sale.  It was a madhouse, and I’m not totally sure if it was worth the hassle and crowd.  But it’s done and I’ve bought a few plants — some peppers, a tomatillo, and the following tomato varieties:

1884, Amish Paste, Ananas Noire, Cherokee Purple Indeterminate, Cream Sausage, Green Zebra, and Nyagous.

I am now flying blind.  We’ll see what we get.

Happy Mother’s Day from the preschool

The kids at H’s preschool made dishtowels with their hand prints on them for Mother’s Day.  Which is awesome, because I am more interested than normal in dishtowels.

The teachers transcribed each child’s description of their favorite food their mother makes (never-mind that Brad is way better in the kitchen).  Here’s H’s, “Chicken Noodle Soup.  My mom puts it on the stove.  She adds carrots and then chicken but not real chicken.  It is similar to chicken.  Then she adds the noodles.”

Man, he makes me sound like such a freak sometimes, using only a chicken approximation.  Also, “similar” is my very favorite grown-up word that H uses.  It cracks me up every single time.

Arts and Crafts Textiles – Book Review

I might be the least qualified person on earth to review this book. So now you know.

This book by Ann Wallace is NOT a how-to craft book. It is more of an art history book. I enjoyed it immensely, though I am not generally interested in art history. Here are some ideas I gleaned:

1. Victorian clutteredness was a result of mass-produced goods becoming available. Suddenly, a bunch of stuff was affordable to the middle class, so they bought a whole lot of it and cluttered up the house. Sort of a nouveau riche thing, yes? I have tried to love Victorian interiors, but I can only love them in pictures. Ick, so many dust collectors and ruffles. ( Yeah, I’m sure I’m oversimplifying.  I’ll probably go read something about Victorian design and then I’ll fall all in love with it. But for the moment, ignorance is bliss. Or maybe I should say ignorance is dislike?  I live in a very small space and have an aversion to filling up space with non-useful stuff.  I like everything to be earning its keep and to have few single-task items.)

2. In reaction to the lack of restraint in Victorian design, several schools of art began to emphasize clean lines and brighter colors. There was a political leaning also, in placing value on one’s own handwork and erasing the distinction between high art and low art.

3. Simply decorated, useful textiles were one manifestation of this philosophy. Affordability to regular people was valued, and was most applicable to simple textiles (since not everyone can afford custom furniture, right?). The style is called Arts & Crafts. Bungalow homes are an architectural expression of this design philosophy.

4. In Europe, the political overtones of the movement were quickly lost. European Arts and Crafts textiles tended to use expensive materials and were professionally made, and so were of very high quality. They are valued by collectors

5. New manufacturing techniques made consistently spun and colorfast threads more available on a broad scale. In America, this led to national advertising from thread companies. National advertising from thread companies made women’s magazines affordable. Kits for embroidery in the new design aesthetic were sold widely from the magazines.

6. As a result, American Arts & Crafts embroidery was widespread, (and not very well-defined). Since it was mostly done by homemakers, the quality of the work is variable and it has not been highly valued by collectors. Materials remained basic and inexpensive.

Only one mention of tatting – that a very simple tatted edge was “acceptable.” Not surprising. Tatting lends itself to Victorian-ness, doesn’t it?  Many of the traditional tatting designs I’ve seen are for doilies.  Doilies to me are the essence of Victorian.  I don’t object to them, but man.  They gotta be limited, ya know?  I am happy to see people thinking of other applications for tatting as well.  It seems it is really a developing art.

I have zero interest in collecting, but I am attracted to the designs and have a natural tendency to value handwork. And I do love me some surface embroidery.  I’m moving (slowly) closer to embroidering some dish towels.  Or stickin’ a tatted corner on one.

Cleaning out papers

Here’s a recommendation: Before you die, please get rid of all papers that no one else is interested in.  It is not very fun to go through mounds of medical records, old insurance bills, phone and gas bills, and car payment coupons.  And try to label the pictures (I’m no good at this one, myself).

Today I went back to my late Aunt Bessie’s house to help go through the file cabinet and take any family history information for my uncle’s side.  I’ve come away with a box of stuff, many pictures, and some books.  I’ve gone through it all and straightened it up a bit, sorted things into different envelopes where that seemed to be needed.  I now have my parents’ original wedding announcement/invitation to their open house, as well as clippings from what I believe is the Fillmore paper announcing the wedding.  One gives me a laugh — the headline is “Hyrum Johnson and Idaho Girl Marry.”  Ouch!  That’s a bit reductionist, isn’t it, Mom?

I also found a little black notebook that stopped my heart for just a second when I opened itgrammas-book_cover_050509_1 and saw the words “Hattie Bennett, Holden, Nov 8, 1908” written inside the front cover.  I thought for a moment that I had in my possession my grandmother’s personal journal from her teenage years.  Alas, it is instead her copy book from school.  However, her little essays and notes are rather interesting, too.  I wonder did she select the pieces herself?  The poems in the back are so sentimental, but they are not attributed: grammas-book-last-page_0505092

A maiden fair with golden hair

Was resting from a dance.

Her lover, bending over her,

Was watching every glance.

He saw her blue eyes wandering

Across the ball-room floor.

Although she said she loved but him,

He knew she loved before.

He took her hand and drew her near;

He loved her more than life.

He could not bear to think of her

As another’s wife.

“Forget the past and tell me true

Your thoughts,” the lover cried.

As in a dream with downcast eyes,

The girl he loved replied,

“It was only a dream of the past, Jack,

Just a vision of days that’s gone by.

It may be a waltz they are playing

Or a face that I see passing by,

But I’ll not waltz again just to please you.

I’m tired the light so bright.

Though it may be a waltz they are playing

Brings tears to my eyes, Jack, tonight.”

They left the throng of dancers gay

And strolled out in the night.

The ground was quite deserted

Save from the pale moonlight.

“Tonight I want your answer, Nell,

You promised long ago.

For heaven’s name be merciful!

You know I love you so.”

Tonight he wants her answer

But her thoughts are far away.

For the one she loved was in heaven above

What answer could she say?

She drew her lover’s lips to hers

And gave him just one kiss

And through the blindness of his life

He thought that kiss meant yes.

My grandmother died a long time ago; I certainly never knew her and my father only remembers her as a child remembers.  grammas-book-back-inside-cover_050509Sure wish I knew more about her.  I’m glad to have this little book to peruse.

She was a schoolteacher.  Did you know the difference between the words brothers and brethren?  ‘Cause I didn’t, specifically.  Can you read it?grammas-book-lesson-14_050509_1